When “Rock Man” Chen Lei started his martial arts journey, his parents’ blessing was never on his mind. His focus was self-preservation.
After being relentlessly bullied in his youth as a small, skinny kid, he learned sanda so he could stand up for himself.
His efforts paid off, as he overcame his childhood tormentors. Also, during those initial training sessions, he fell in love with the martial arts.
From his earliest days in the dojo, he knew he had found his calling. Martial arts would become his life’s work.
However, when he revealed his career aspirations to his mother and father, they were not well-received. His parents had serious reservations about his chosen path.
“In the beginning, my parents were worried that I would get injured,” the 29-year-old from Changsha, China explains.
“They thought that because I am older than other opponents, that I would not be able to compete with them, physically. They really did not approve of me doing this.
“My parents wanted me to have a normal job. I come from the countryside, and my parents wanted me to do something they are proud of. To them, sitting in the office and facing the computer screen fits their expectations.
“But I knew what I wanted. Even though the road is tough to walk, I will still go on.”
The incredible toughness of "Rock Man" Chen Lei!Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, August 19, 2018
Chen’s nickname, “Rock Man,” signifies his strength – mentally and physically.
With or without his parents’ blessing, he continued his mixed martial arts journey, cross-training in multiple disciplines, and entered the cage.
The Chinese warrior’s success did the talking. Although his parents were not immediately on board with his career choice, his commitment and triumphs that followed started to sway them.
“I have been through a lot of hard times, pain, and failure, but that only made me stronger. When the time passed by, my parents also changed their minds,” he says.
“I did not really try to change anybody’s mind. I am doing my own thing, and I proved it with my results.”
In addition to becoming a Shanghai Open BJJ Champion, Chen has emerged as a standout mixed martial artist. He owns a spotless professional record of 8-0, which includes four victories in ONE Championship.
“Rock Man” has already reached heights most athletes could only dream of. His tenacity has kept him moving forward in the face of adversity – in life, in competition, and during his countless hours in the gym.
“Sometimes, I feel very tired — especially when I train alone,” Chen reveals. “But I never give up. You need to have gone through all of those hard times to get what you deserve.”
The burden, while not completely lifted, has been eased now that he has his family by his side. For a while, he only had one person backing him up.
“I want to thank my girlfriend, especially,” he continues. “She supported me and encouraged me from the beginning. We have been through many tough times.”
It all seems to be paying off for “Rock Man.”
His star is continuing to rise in the world’s largest martial arts organization, and he is becoming a renowned hero in his native China.
With every performance, he wins fans thanks to his durability and never-say-die attitude.
The struggle is far from over, however, as the Changsha native still has many obstacles in front of him. Despite the challenges ahead, he knows his strength will continue to pull him through.
He hopes his experience and success can be a lesson to young, like-minded martial artists who may not have their parents’ approval yet.
“You have to know what you want,” he states. “Martial arts is a tough road to walk, and you will face many difficulties. You need to ask yourself if you are ready for that.”
He expects to rise to the challenge posed by his Malaysian foe, just like he has in every previous battle.
Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast